tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC March 10, 2015 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT
named for an american of disgrace. let's rename it for an american hero. tonight on "all in" -- >> i would be pleased to talk more about this important matter, but i know there have been questions about my e-mail. >> hillary clinton breaks her silence and causes a veep-like media frenzy. >> got to eat the yogurt now. i mean there will be cameras on you. this is like dairy defcon 1. >> tonight, separating the news from the spectacle with senator dick durbin and state department spokesperson marie harf. >> i opted for convenience. >> then republican war on peace talks continues as two more sign tom cotton's letter to the mullahs. plus, the whistle-blower who says rick scott banned the term climate change joins me live. and as the racism story at an oklahoma fraternity continues
to blow up, ta-nehisi coates why we only act when racism is caught on tape. "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. hillary clinton today made what was effectively the first major campaign appearance of her near certain 2016 presidential bid, and it was not the one she would have chosen. in a 20-minute news conference this afternoon at the u.n., clinton spoke publicly for the first time about her decision to exclusively use a private e-mail address while secretary of state. it was a surreal scene at the u.n. where clinton had been introduced earlier in the day as a future president before delivering a speech on women's rights. hundreds of reporters, the one who managed to navigate the u.n.'s notoriously difficult credentialing system, packed into a room that featured a replica of picasso's "guernica" to the left of the podium.
organizers had moved a group of flags from behind her podium to in front of the painting in order to make her news conference seem less like an official united nations address, but as nbc's andrea mitchell reported, they could not move the blue background behind her emblazoned with the word security council in french because it was bolted to the wall. clinton spoke first about women's rights and blasted the letter republican senators sent to iran concerning nuclear negotiations. when she transitioned to the topic of her e-mail, she made clear she would rather be discussing something else. >> now, i would be pleased to talk more about this important matter, but i know there have been questions about my e-mail, so i want to address that directly, and then i will take a few questions from you. >> clinton told reporters her decision to use a personal e-mail address while secretary of state was a matter of convenience. >> when i got to work as secretary of state, i opted for convenience to use my personal e-mail account, which was allowed by the state department because i thought it would be easier to carry just one device from my work and for my personal
e-mails instead of two. looking back, it would have been better for me to use two separate phones and two e-mail accounts. i thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously it hasn't worked out that way. >> clinton said that while she turned over to the state department every e-mail that could potentially be considered work related, a total of 55,000 pages, she chose to delete the e-mails she considered personal. >> we went through a thorough process to identify all of my work-related e-mails and deliver them to the state department. at the end, i chose not to keep my private personal e-mail, s, e-mails about planning chelsea's wedding or my mother's funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends, as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in in-boxes. >> clinton also told reporters her e-mails, which were run through a server she owned that was registered to her home, were
secure from hackers and that she did not use e-mail to send classified material. >> the system we used was set up for president clinton's office and it had numerous safeguards. it was on property guarded by the secret service, and there were no security breaches. >> just a short time ago, i asked illinois democratic senator dick durbin about clinton's performance. senator, you made some news this morning on the matter of hillary clinton's e-mails saying that you basically wanted to hear her side of the story, you wanted an explanation of why this procedure was chosen. today she came out. she gave that explanation. i'm curious, are you satisfied with the explanation that we heard today? >> i read through it. i didn't actually witness her press conference, but i read through the testimony or at least the statement that she made, and at least i will tell you as i look at it initially, she answered the questions. all of the e-mails that she sent in to the department of state
were sent to dot-gov addresses so they're a part of the official e-mail traffic fully disclosable and compliant with the law. the only things she held back were of a personal nature but she ended up disclosing, i belive, 55,000 different e-mails. she's gone above and beyond the requirements of the law to show that nothing was done to break the law. >> what do you think about the fact that the rest of those e-mails that were in that combined e-mail address that were not selected to be preserved with the state department were, in fact, deleted? a lot of people raising questions about that today. >> well, of course, those are her personal e-mails, and as she said, they included plans for her daughter's wedding, her mother's funeral, favorite yoga exercises, what's the weather going to be like tomorrow, so it gets right down to it. a lot is the common traffic of e-mail that most of us are engaged in every day, it had nothing to do with her official responsibilities. those e-mails were sent in to the department of state have been preserved and disclosed. >> finally how do you feel about 20 more months of answering
questions about hillary clinton? >> well, listen, i've been through this. i was through the initial bill clinton campaign and his re-elect. i know the attacks that they faced throughout the campaigns and their presidency. they are going to go on nonstop. there are some people who have made a practice and profession out of attacking the clinton family, and it's just amazing to me that hillary is seriously considering this run for presidency knowing that this is in her future. >> it is, indeed, amazing. earlier the state department today announced that e-mails that clinton turned over will be posted to a public website after review. a fact that clinton today hailed as an unprecedent example of transparency. this arrange i asked the state department spokes pperson marie harf how they can be sure she turned over the proper ones. >> it's up to each official to turn over records they have that may be official records for safekeeping and for the purposes of becoming official records. she says she has done that.
that is her responsibility. we're going through those 55,000 pages now so we can publicly release them. that's very important, certainly for the public interest. she said she has turned over everything, and she's going to have to be the one to speak to that. she has and we're moving forward with the review. >> joining me now, msnbc national correspondent joy reid and msnbc contributor sam seder who hosts the daily political talk show. all right. well, today was the rollout in its own weird way. today was the first campaign event, i think it's fair to say, for hillary clinton, presidential candidate 2016, even though she's not declared. what was your reaction. >> am i a bad person because i don't think that's the biggest scandal? i feel like, look, you know, colin powell used his personal e-mail. we're sort of witnessing the kind of snowdenization of the media discourse. we've gone from a couple of generations that were horrified to find out lbj and mixon were
taping everything to feeling entitled to every e-mail, tweet, text, content, core puzzle inside of minds of our political leaders. you know, and i think that the only people who truly, truly care about this and will care about this in the long run are people who do this for a living, people who are reporters who feel like they want to follow hillary clinton's comings and goings, maybe historians and archivists. most voters are not going to be thinking about this when hillary clinton runs. >> let me respond to that. there's two issues here. what is the substantive issue, the problem and sort of the political ramifications. as a journalist substantive there are reasons these exist. i want there to be public records both in realtime for fleaa purposes and for perpetuity for history of official correspondence. that's important and to the extent it's undertaken to evade that seems deeply problematic. i'm, however, still not convinced that's the case. i really don't know. that's why i care as a journalist. i agree, it's unclear how it all shakes out. the one thing i do think it does is make democrats get a little uncomfortable. >> here comes the clintons -- >> right. well before we get to the
political, let me just say -- >> i don't want to get meta too fast. >> the fundamental dilemma is because you mentioned colin powell. all his e-mails -- >> he deleted everything. oh, gone. completely gone. >> and john kerry apparent lily does all his business on a dot-gov -- that's apparently the new law but has a private e-mail account and presumably makes a decision every time he goes to e-mail this will be business and this one will be personal. the dilemma. i don't know what the solution is. we can argue as to there could have been a better political decision made, one that might appear in some way to be more transparent, but i don't know exactly what could have been more transparent. >> so, this to me -- the point you make there is an important point and i thought probably the most -- i thought some of her answers were not persuasive. the most when some people said, how can we trust that you retroactively selected the right e-mails? her response was basically let's say i had two devices, a personal and professional. i would be selecting in the moment and, of course, everyone
does that now, right, so there is no enforceable way, people are going to have private e-mail, right? there's really no enforceable way to keep -- but that said, compliance matters. having the two devices matters. those lines matter. i know in the white house where the presidential act pertains they are intense about this precisely because even the appearance of it really matters in terms of historical records and complying with the law. >> right, but at the same time though the law that specifically pertains to e-mail, you know, it actually was signed in 2014, right. so it's not as if at the time the law -- the records act had already been amended to account for e-mail and why was that done? because of the media over benghazi and this hunt for some sort of conspiracy on the part of republicans, then you had the white house, you had the congress pass this law to extend or might have been more the irs, actually it was either one of the two or one of these two scandals where you have this we need to add e-mail and make sure we have all of hillary's e-mails. this germinated from the
benghazi thing so i'm a little bit dubious of it as a scandal. and, again listen, these guys have personal e-mails and lives. if she wants to plan chelsea's wedding, i don't have a problem with her doing that on her >> right, but no one does. that's not the issue. the issue is that they set up this e-mail that they were all going to use everything on it and then after the fact. i guess my point is if you run this in an opposite direction and it's karl rove, right, i mean, that's the whole point of this, right? are you inclined to think the worth of them. >> colin powell was helping plan a war we didn't have to wage so i'm a lot more concerned with the fact that all his e-mails are gone. well, but there's not a lot of outrage about that. >> right, but if it was karl rove, right, and if you did find out that someone in the bush administration or someone you are not inclined to trust basically ran this procedure in which after the fact they got to say you get this, i stay this -- the point is fundamentally it will come down to that. if you don't trust hillary clinton or you think the clintons are shady then that's not going to be do enough. if you do, you do. that rorschach test is going to be the defining feature of the next 20 months. >> right, and also
i would expand it, if you are less interested in hillary as the democratic nominee, you may see this as just an opportunity as opposed -- i mean because fundamentally at the end of this, like what is it that we're chasing? really i mean -- what is it we're chasing here? >> that's the question for all -- i want to find out about those cattle futures and know what happened at the rose law firm and whitewater and know why he was on the tarmac getting that haircut. >> the republicans just want the opportunity to go fishing and keep this alive for as long as possible. and so, you know, i mean i would much rather be critical of hillary clinton on a myriad of sort of -- >> this is her thing, right, but this is exactly everyone saying we're back here again which is liberals and people to the left during the clinton years spent all their time divided between frustration at the sort of lots of the policies defending them against this ridiculous onslaught particularly culminating in impeachment and like a lot going here we go
again. >> there's also one other point too. you know, jeb bush running for president, the reason why we care about this hillary clinton, let's be clear because there's a presumption she's running for president. jeb bush as governor released -- did the exact same thing but with less e-mails. scott walker, same thing as -- >> yes, although let's just the record -- what regulations were controlling are distinct and different, right, so whether they're compliant or not it isn't apples and oranges. >> that being the case but there's not even a hint like -- >> that's the question. >> there's some other dynamic. >> could anyone else withstand the level of clinton scrutiny and is it because of the clintons or the way they act? >> all we now in the media, the media buying into that same reflexive clinton skepticism, that because it's them there must be something nefarious in the e-mails and we're going to go -- as sort of a witch-hunt and assuming there must be something nefarious in what she did other than maybe she just liked using her gmail. >> right, well it wasn't her gmail. whatever. >> hopefully it wasn't aol.com then i had and upset. >> thank you both.
only a day after 47 senators sent a letter to iran in an attempt to undermine the obama administration's nuclear talks the backlash is already in full force. this was the rather incendiary cover of "the new york daily news" calling the signatories to the letter traitors and inspiring the #47traitors which has been trending nationwide on twitter all day even amid hillary clinton's first press conference. at this hour the petition asking the obama administration to prosecute the 47 senators who signed the letter is closing in on the threshold of the 100,000 signatures for a response from the white house. coming up next the backlash in washington and iran and how the letter may actually be backfiring. can this mess be conquered by a little bit of dawn ultra?
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either these senators were trying to be helpful to the iranians or harmful to the commander in chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy. either answer does discredit to the letter's signatories. >> hillary clinton weighed in today on the continuing firestorm over the open letter to the iranian regime signed by 47 republican senators which says that president obama doesn't have the authority to make a lasting nuclear deal without senate buy-n vice president joe biden himself a senator, of course, for 36 years blasted the letter in an unusually strongly worded
statement, "the letter sent on march 9th expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations is beneath the dignity of an institution i revere. this letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that our commander in chief cannot deliver on america's commitments, a message that is as false as it is dangerous." and while the letter to iran began with the condescending first line, "it has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government, you may not fully understand our constitutional system," the response from iranian foreign minister javad zarif, who holds a ph.d. in international relations from the university of denver, one should note, questioned the signatory's own understanding of foreign affairs "the authors may not fully understand that in international law governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international
obligations." with democrats taking the senate floor today to condemn the letter spearheaded by senator tom cotton, the republican from arkansas, there is new evidence it is having an adverse effect to put pressure on iran. senator foreign relations chair bob corker sponsoring a bill that would require congressional approval of nuclear deals is one of seven republican senators who knows not to sign the letter and he told politico "i knew it was going to be only republicans on the letter. i just don't view that as where i need to be today. my goal is to get 67 or more people on something that will affect the outcome." but the appearance of partisanship doesn't seem to concern two 2016 contenders who now want to get in on the letter action despite not being members of the u.s. senate louisiana governor bobby jindal who signed it today and former texas governor rick perry no longer even in office who tweeted that he'd be proud and honored to sign. i asked deputy state department spokes pperson
marie harf about accusations within iran that the letter shows the u.s. would not be able to keep its end of a possible nuclear bargain. >> well, certainly, chris, inside the negotiating room we have been very clear that if we get to an agreement, we will uphold our responsibilities just as we expect iran to. but to be frank with you, these kinds of distractions, these kinds of partisan politics are really -- they play a role here in terms of the fact that we are negotiating a very complicated agreement and to have these kinds of distractions are really reckless and they're very irresponsible, and we as america, we as the united states are strongest overseas in these kinds of negotiations when we speak with one voice and when we don't bring partisan politics into very serious foreign policy discussions. >> the concern, of course, that members of the senate have articulated, tom cotton among them, is essentially that they are not being significantly read in and prepped and the administration is prepared to essentially give away the store to iran. >> well, i'd separate a few things out.
first of all, i think there's no issue, we have talked to congress about more certainly since i've been at the state department than iran, and throughout all of those talks we have been very clear, our bottom lines have not changed. we need to get to one-year breakout time, and we need to cut off the four pathways for iran to get to a nuclear weapon. we have briefed many members of congress in varying levels of detail. they play a key role here, but if congress wants to play even more of a role, the way to do that is not to take this kind of reckless and irresponsible behavior, look, i think it's disingenuous for them to claim it's intended to help the negotiators, i think anyone who sees it understands this is intended to really scuttle these negotiations and i think that's incredibly dangerous. >> does john kerry trust mohammad javad zarif who is the foreign minister for iran? >> this isn't about trust. we've always said this isn't about trust. this is about iran taking verifiable, credible, concrete steps to assure the world that it's upholding its end of the
deal here under the joint plan which we've been living under since we finished it in november a few years ago, they have upheld their end of the bargain. that's not based on us, that's based on the iaea verifying that. so none of this is about trust. that's why we need transparency, monitoring, verification into the program. >> can i just say, i've heard you give that answer before and i understand why you give it. but any -- >> because it's the truth. that's why. >> but any negotiation is about trust at a certain level, right? if you genuinely think the person across the table from you is completely duplicitous, cannot be held to their word at all, it's very hard to have a negotiation. usually you're negotiating something that's ultimately verifiable. >> i think that one of the reasons i actually think the joint plan of action this first step agreement we agreed to in geneva was so important is that we had never come to this kind of agreement with the iranians before. with this regime and so we were able to put that in place not knowing how this was going to play out. and the fact that they have kept all of their commitments under it, again, this isn't about
trust, it's about meeting commitments and really setting the stage for us to negotiate a comprehensive agreement, but i will guarantee you, chris, if we get to an agreement, it will not be about trust, it will be about verification, and if we see them breaching the agreement, not living up to their commitments there are many ways we will have of dealing with that and we will be on the lookout for that. >> marie harf of the state department, thank you very much. >> thanks, chris. >> i'm joined now by senator dick durbin, democrat from illinois. senator, i'd like to get your reaction to start off to the news that not just republican members of the senate but republicans outside the senate including bobby jindal, rick perry are so eager to sign on to the letter that was authorized by tom cotton to the iranian regime. what do you make of that? >> well, i can just tell you they've really lost sight of our goal. the president is trying to stop iran from developing a nuclear weapon and avoid another war in the middle east. he's in the midst of these delicate negotiations, nothing has been announced in terms of any final agreement and won't be for several weeks.
47 republican senators sent a letter to the ayatollah in iran to tell them they're wasting their time. there's never going to be an agreement because the republicans won't agree to it in congress. that to me is breathtaking. it is unprecedented. we can't find a time in history when any political party has done this to a president. >> "the daily news" had a cover with several of the members of the senate signed on to it with the headline, traitors. do you agree with that assessment? >> oh, of course, i'm not going to use that term. i think that goes way beyond the pale, but what they've done is clearly unprecedented, and it doesn't help. what the president's trying to do is to make sure that we have peace in the middle east. there are some of them that are itching for us to have a military confrontation. i'm not one of those people. if we can resolve this issue in the middle east without american troops on the ground, without risking american lives and still have a nuclear-free iran to protect our allies and our own future interests, that's the best outcome, and this republican letter doesn't help.
>> as a member of the senate, long-standing, member of the senate, member of leadership doesn't the president have a constitutional obligation to come to the senate with the eventual deal that is if there is a deal negotiated, an eventual deal that is negotiated, doesn't he have to do that? >> in one respect yes. any congressionally imposed sanctions, laws passed by congress can, of course, be changed or enforced by congress. executive action would be a different category. but when you get into the question about whether it's an executive agreement or a treaty, you know, that's a debate that's been going on for a long time. think about this for a second, the president entered into an executive agreement with iran in 2013 to start these negotiations. iran agreed to bring in inspectors so that the people can look around and find out exactly what they were doing. iran agreed to shut down any development of nuclear power during this period of time. this was an executive agreement never considered or taken up by congress. it's an example where the president is using his authority as other presidents have to try to move forward toward a peaceful resolution.
>> hillary clinton today had some very strong words for your colleagues in the senate. what was your reaction to her comments on their letter to the iranian regime? >> hillary clinton, of course, has served as secretary of state. she knows that when it comes to these negotiations, delicate, important negotiations between nations, what you have is your word and your promise. and now we have the republican senators, 47 of them, stepping in and saying, we don't care what the president agrees to, we're going to stop it. you know, that really would defeat the purpose of a president as a leader in foreign policy and commander in chief using his office to keep america safe. think about this for a second, it wasn't until last week that the republicans in congress were able to fund the department of homeland security after almost six months, so now they're saying before there's any international agreement, it has to go through the republican leadership and congress, you know, forgive me, but i think there's a better way to do it if we can achieve the solution of a nuclear-free iran and a peaceful middle east. >> senator dick durbin, democrat from illinois, always a
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global warming in official reports and communications and that the unwritten policy was communicated in 2011 after rick scott, an established climate change denier, came into office. christopher byrd, who worked as an attorney with the dep's office of general counsel from 2008 to 2013 said that he was warned not to use climate change and related terms during a 2011 staff meeting. "i did infer from this meeting that this was a new policy, that these words were to be prohibited for use from official dep policymaking with our clients." several other staffers reported similar experiences and earlier today governor rick scott responded. >> governor, were you aware that scientists were being told not to speak about climate change and will scientists in the future be able to speak about climate change? >> first off that's untrue. at our department of environmental protection, look, there's lots of conversations about this issue. from my standpoint like every issue, my goal is instead of
talking about it, let's do something about it, so in the last four years we put money in it with regard to flood mitigation and settled a decades old lawsuit over the everglades, historic funding to deal with the water quality and historic funding for springs so my goal is to continue to make progress. >> notice he didn't actually use the words climate change there either. we asked the governor's office to comment on the report. they told us it's not true didn't specify what specifically but former dep attorney christopher byrd who was on the record saying it is true is standing by what he told the florida center for investigative reporting, that after rick scott was elected, officials at the dep were warned not to use climate change or global warming and christopher byrd joins me next. ng on time. and then one day you tap the bumper of a station wagon. no big deal... until your insurance company jacks up your rates. you freak out. what good is having insurance if you get punished for using it?
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tell me when and how the policy in question of not saying climate change or global warming was communicated to you? >> yes, shortly after rick scott was elected in 2010 and was inaugurated at the beginning of the next year, 2011, the general counsel's office called a staff meeting with all the lawyers to warn us that things were going to change under the new administration and within those changes were certain policies that would prohibit us from using these terms, climate change, global warming, sustainability and even sea level rise. >> wait a second. they told you you could not use the phrase sea level rise in your official capacity for the florida department of environmental protection? >> that is correct. it was a clear direction that this administration was not on board from a partisan position with science regarding climate change. >> this was verbally communicated to you by your manager? >> by my superiors in the office of general counsel, yes. >> did they explicitly say this
is coming from the governor? >> no, they did not, but this was during a time when the governor's office was laying off a vast number of employees in florida statewide and targeting specific scientists for firing, so we knew that if it came to us or this policy, we wanted to keep our jobs, we better not use those terms. >> so, you're being told there's a new -- there's a new boss in town, it's the governor, obviously he's been elected and he has the right under that to set policy. at the same time, there are lots of layoffs of people in your department and you put those two together and not only do you understand you're not supposed to say these words but if you do you could be running a risk of losing your job? >> exactly. it was very clear. >> are there other people who had the same experience? >> yeah, fortunately as a result of this story, other employees of the department are now able to come out and speak about their experience having their presentations and reports
actually censored by the governor's office. just recently someone who worked for the department of health also had climate change stricken from her reports. >> they actually went in and scrubbed it out? >> before it was able to be published, you had to run it by their office. >> so what was your reaction to this at the time? i mean, did you feel like you could adequately do your job under these constraints? >> well, at that time i was counsel for the coral reef conservation program in miami, and as you can imagine, we use those terms quite often to describe the threats that are present to the coral reef resources in florida. climate change, warming, oceans and rising acidic levels in the oceans were great threats to our coral resources, so it made it very difficult for us to continue our public outreach in education being essentially gagged from using those terms. >> you were ultimately fired from your position in that -- the department of environmental protection. what do you say to people who
say you are essentially disgruntled. this is sour grapes? >> oh, i was fired two years ago. i have a very rewarding practice in public interest environmental law here in florida. i was asked to recount my experiences at dep under rick scott, and i'm happy to share the truth with everybody, and i'm glad to see others having the courage to step up and speak out. >> what does it mean to you that the state of florida is currently governed by a man who apparently -- he denies it, but according to what you're saying doesn't allow these terms to be used and seems to be burying its head in the sand even though it's perhaps the state of the union most threatened by things like sea level rise and climate change? >> it's very concerning personally, but i'm hoping that as a result of this story, the governor's office will, indeed, step up and do what they say, address these issues head on and make progress. there's no point in denying climate change or banning your scientists from using those words anymore. i hope the governor's office steps up and shows us that he's
on board and will support science in the state of florida. >> christopher byrd, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. you know, it occurs to me one way to definitively rebut this from the governor's office would be just to produce a lot of documents that they published that have the terms climate change or sea level rise. they could do that and then that would be a pretty convincing rebuttal. we should see. all right. what's worse, people saying the "n" word on tape or let's say years of systematic housing discrimination? why i'm not leaping to join the universal condemnation of the racist frat members, that's ahead. award-winning skin. from the world's #1. olay, your best beautiful [bell rings] you're not mr. craig. yeah, i'm confused where's mr. craig? well, i'm sorta mr. craig. we're both between 35 and 45 years old. we both like to save money on car insurance. and we're both really good at teaching people a lesson. um, let's go.
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exact same -- >> drum pattern. very similar pattern, the sound of the cow bell and marvin gaye's whoo! >> whoo. >> right, right. >> that all over the track. when you hear it is what confuses everybody. so here we go. let's play one of these. one, two, three. ♪ if you can't hear what i'm trying to say if you can't read from the same page ♪ ♪ maybe i'm going deaf maybe i'm going blind maybe i'm out of my mind ♪ >> awesome. wow, that sounded great. all right, so now let's listen to "got to give it up." >> all right. ♪ i used to go out to parties and stand around 'cause i was too nervous to really get down ♪
♪ and my body yearned to be free so i got up on the floor and found someone to choose me ♪ >> wow. so, okay, that actually i find is really illustrative lining that up the way we did where we started with the thing that got nailed legally and then something extremely similar didn't, i come down if i'm on the jury i don't think it gets to the legal line. >> well, i was wrong. or maybe i was right but the jury was wrong because today that jury found thicke and pharrell guilty of copyright infringement and ordered them to pay $7.3 million to the family of marvin gaye. back in two minutes.
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seen that infamous video of some fraternity brothers at the university of oklahoma sigma alpha epsilon chapter singing that song. as soon as that went public, the condemnation has been swift and nearly universal, the president condemning immediately. they took the letters down from the frat house, two of the people have since been identified and expelled by the president of the university. condemnation pouring in understandably and rightly from all quarters including one of the people to condemn it at first was the fraternity mother, woman who i believe lived in the house, hung out with the brothers and then after she condemned it, well, this video came out. ♪ [ bleep ]. [ bleep ]. >> that's her saying the "n" word the "n" word, the "n" word. she released a statement today saying she was sing ago long with the song. that got me to thinking "a what's been going on behind the
doors of sigma alpha epsilon and, "b," it occurs to me these 19-year-old guys going to the dance with their dates didn't write that song on the way to the affair. did they? they probably didn't write it right before they got on the bus, no, in fact, that song was taught to them somewhere somehow. it's probably been along for a very long time and it occurred to me that as these two kids get expelled for saying these vile disgusting things to think about ferguson, missouri. after the 106-page report from the department of justice came out basically chronicling a rogue agency of police that were using their position to humiliate and to extract revenue from the city's black residents in violation of their constitutional rights in a systematic and unjust fashion that's offensive to everything we think about self-determination, liberty and rights that the people that lost their jobs in the report wasn't the police chief, it wasn't the people who engaged in that systemic violation of rights, it was the two police officers who had happened to send racist e-mails. that is what we nab. it's the racist e-mails.
you want to run a department that essentially uses the men in blue to enforce white supremacy, that might happen. but send a racist e-mail about black people being lazy and like dog, then that gets you fired. there's something going on when we have these moments of universal condemnation when we point and shame and name and say that's racist, that "n" word. that thing happening on the bus, let's get rid of that because it lets everybody off the hook about what's happening off the bus. i had a conversation with my friend ta-nehisi coates over texts. he agreed with me. he's here to talk about it. stick around.
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phillips' joining me now, the aforementioned ta-nehisi coates, national correspondent at "the atlantic." so, you and i were having a text exchange last night about this and i -- it's obviously you can do both. we can talk about institutional racism, white supremacy and what happened at ferguson and say that, you know, people face consequences for something as vile and disgusting as that but a level which it feels the ritual by which we go through ritual purification around something as clearly odious as this is somehow in some way letting us off the hook on other stuff. >> no, i totally agree. i mean, i think the importance to the ferguson report last week was while it indicted the government it indicts every other citizen in the town and the whole thing. i think what happens is when you have chants like this, it's very easy to distance yourself. it's very easy to make
racism that works and controls monsters but civilized society does not and for the lion's share our civilized society has depended on those sorts of practices. that distancing is an essential part of actually white supremacy remaining with us, the blindness is part of it. the innocence as james baldwin talked about is part of the process. >> we have to re-create the innocence and part of recreating the innocence is saying what happened on that bus is not innocent and we condemn it, which obviously it is. >> we're innocent. >> right. >> because none of us -- >> we would never do that and no one we know -- >> therefore, we're not part of it. >> i should note that these two students, levi pettit and parker rice, the two students who were expelled issued apologies and say they were wrong, wrong to do it. although levi said, yes, the song was taught to us but that doesn't work as an explanation. well then who -- that's the other thing. that song and i've seen this all over twitter pop up. people from across the country, oh, i heard that song 30 years ago, i heard that at sigma alpha epsilon. yes, i heard someone say i heard
it in texas. that wasn't, you know, i mean that song, hanging from a tree, that song has got -- there's some back story there. >> right, right, but i think part of this -- this is like i think the hard thing versus america. if you're going to have a policy like you have in ferguson and there's a great story in "the new york times" on sunday basically pointed out that it wasn't just ferguson, ferguson wasn't even just the worst. rally balco has done great, also sara stillman at "the new yorker," has been doing great reporting and if you have policies like that those sorts of songs are what's going to happen. there's a necessary relationship. if you're going to say it's okay that we're going to stop some "x" number disproportionate number of black people basically use them as plunder what happens is you have to justify that and make it okay so dehumanizing people is part of that then the end result of comes back the other way because the fact that the people are dehumanized, you then talk about them in that way. the cycle works so as long as we have policies like this, those songs will continue to happen and what we do to distance ourself from the actual policy
is, you know, when it pops up, we say, oh, no, not me, not me, but, you know as we saw with the report this funds actual governments. >> you say the residents of ferguson do not have a police problem. they have a gang problem that the gang operates under legal sanction makes no difference. it is a gang nonetheless. there is no other word to describe an armed band of collection agents. >> that's exactly what it is. i mean i -- people think of law as like, you know, like the tablets of moses descended from god. but, you know, i can make -- i can set law. law is set by man. you know, and just because we determine something to be unlawful doesn't necessarily make it like god's morality or something. >> someone once made a distinction between nation of laws and nation with laws and i remember talking to someone who was a scholar of the soviet union said we have this idea that like lawless tyranny. we have tons of laws and would cite you -- >> nuremberg laws -- >> yeah like laws can be used in this way. there's also -- it also occurs to me this is a theme of your work that you've been doing on
police shootings, particularly policing, which we want to keep in the same way we say the kids on the bus are not us, right. >> right. >> there is a temptation i think particularly martin luther king talked about it, ferguson. that's in missouri. you've got this black young man tony robinson shot and killed in madison, wisconsin, right? >> right. >> now it's like, well, madison, wisconsin, that's -- that probably went 90% for barack obama. >> i would push it further. i mean we even get to -- i don't want to say -- you wants accountability. you want it on some level when police officers go out and shoot people when it's completely unjustified. but at the same time it happens with the police officer where you get focused in on the actual officer and it's like is this officer going to get punished? >> did he do the thing in the moment they said he did? does the witness contradict him? >> you can imagine a very real future with reform when we actually punish officers but officers keep doing it nonetheless because the system necessitates that. a world in which african-americans are viewed in
a particular way as you know they've been traditionally viewed in this country necessitates police killings and until we get to that sort of structural level -- >> what does that mean? i want to say that there's some way that we train our police officers, come up with policing that doesn't produce this. >> how? how? i mean, if you have an implicitly biased population and we've -- we have numerous sociological studies on that, how do you deprogram that and have the expectation that somebody is going to live in a country for 20 years, be exposed to a kind of culture that views black people in a certain kind of way and then they get on the job and after six months and in the police academy they suddenly feel different? i can't tell you i would feel do you -- different. do you understand, me, you know, as a black -- >> in fact, one of the things we learned from the implicit bias research is that african-americans who take these implicit bias tests show lower but still elevated of anti-black -- >> you have to get to a systemic critique and get beyond punishing individuals. i mean, that's part of it.
i'm not saying these 19-year-olds should walk but i'm saying that when we just stop there, it allows us to distance, you know. >> the ultimate example is pointed out by one of our segment producers is donald sterling who was the white owner of los angeles clippers who was a real estate empire that was accused of racial discrimination sued by the department of justice settled for essential lyly kicking black tenants out and making them feel unwelcome. that was fine. as soon as he said that on tape don't bring black players, presto, he was gone. >> when you use the "n" word it's shameful which is a different thing. right? it's shameful. you know. housing discrimination is not necessarily -- it's not like donald sterling wasn't written about, he was years ago but housing discriminate nation is not necessarily shameful. using certain -- >> doesn't have the moral taboo that that word that those kids on the bus used. >> the viewpoint i think for a lot of people is to view racism or racist terms, using racist terminology as a kind of pathology, and what we try to do is we want to quarantine ourselves. >> that's right. >> that's basically what we want
to do without realizing, in fact, that it's with us and we're already part of it. >> ta-nehisi coates, from "the atlantic." thanks. >> thanks. thanks to you at home for joining us. when hillary clinton bowed out of the race for president in 2008 when she gave her concession speech saying she was getting out of the race and she was going to be endorsing barack obama, she gave that speech at the national building museum, which is a very boring sounding name for a place, but the national building museum is one of the most beautiful large-scale rooms of any kind in washington, d.c. just the lobby, the main floor of the national building museum is a gorgeous, gorgeous space. and in that speech that she gave on june 7th, 2008, this very sad occasion for senator clinton and her supporters after this